Firefighters burn invasive phragmites in Ogden Bay

Apr 12, 2024, 6:37 PM | Updated: 6:41 pm

OGDEN BAY — Crews started to burn approximately 2,000 acres of invasive phragmites in the Ogden Bay Wildlife Management Area Friday.

It’s a needed dramatic approach to remove the invasive weed.

To do these prescribed burns, they need to have conditions that are just right, not too moist so that the Phragmites will burn, but not too dry so that the fire would burn out of control.

Utah DNR conducts a controlled burn at the Ogden Bay

Friday gave crews the conditions they needed to at least get started on a large area impacted by these invasive weeds.

The weeds were burned in a wetland set aside for wildlife where those phragmites are taking over.

Kelly Wickens with the Division of Forestry Fire and State Lands said, “It tends to choke out nesting areas and other native plants.” That’s why her group and the Department of Natural Resources are taking this aggressive approach.

The tall weeds also drink lots of water which impacts the Great Salt Lake.

“Prior to burning, we sprayed the area with herbicide.  That helps weaken the phragmites,” Wickens said.

Crews used airboats and off terrain vehicles to navigate the weeks.

Crews used airboats and off terrain vehicles to navigate the weeks. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

Now with the spring phase of the operation, comes the burn. Wildland fire crews from multiple agencies across Weber and Box Elder counties took off in airboats and off-road vehicles to cross the wetlands.

Friday marked their second attempt as the fire would not burn a week ago. Once again, conditions have to be ideal to do this effectively and safely.

“Some of the is what directions or winds are coming from, what kind of cloud cover we have,” Wickens said.

Crews did not burn out the entire 2,000 acre area. They will have to return later n the year. (Division of Forestry)

Out of all of the ways to fight phragmites, they say fire is the most thorough, the fastest, and the least costly.

The fire will help renew and restore the area and support the wildlife.

The crews did not bun out the entire 2,000-acre area Friday but they will return in the coming weeks.

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Firefighters burn invasive phragmites in Ogden Bay